Last night there were several games with Playoff implications. Just what the heck transpired in those games?
Firstly, Carolina, Minnesota, Pittsburgh and Anaheim who should have won, did. For the 'Canes, this means they continue to solidify their claim on the what OGA has been calling the last remaining Eastern Conference Playoff berth. Minnesota, whom OGA called IN the Playoffs last November, lived to scrap another day for a berth they should have been able to maintain but have had trouble with due to key injuries and, we would argue, some morale problems.
Pittsburgh continued their strong push to the post-season which began more than 10 games ago to the embarrassment of a slightly slumping (3-5 in their last eight) Calgary team. And Anaheim, a veritable sleeping giant that OGA called OUT of the Playoffs on 18 February continued to make a case for a seat at the Playoff table in the West.
Secondly, Buffalo hoped to ignite a winning streak they would have to continue with the return of Ryan Miller this Friday in order to salvage any hope of seeing the post-season still on skates. It cost Florida who has seemed, in combination with Carolina's winning ways, to slip heavily from what has been potential play on into late April. Now Florida and Montreal seem to be locked in a race to drop out of the eighth and final Playoff position.
And finally, Chicago indicated what a healthy squad is capable of against an injury-riddled San Jose team. The folks who should receive the contract extensions and bonuses for the Sharks will be the health and trainer staff who can nurse this team back onto the ice for the kind of Playoff run we have all expected since they started this season a team on fire.
Welcome to parity and the battle for your NHL Playoff picture, people. What a reason to come home from a hard day's work every night from now through April 12th...